Breast pain is a common problem that many women experience but is usually hormone related and benign. Breast cysts or lumps can also be another common cause of breast pain. Normally breast cancers do not cause pain. It is important to contact a physician if you experience constant, persistent pain.
It is common and natural for women to have lumpiness in their breasts, which is why breast self exams are so important as they allow you to become comfortable and aware of your body and any changes. Contact a physician if you notice a new lump that does not go away during or after your menstrual cycle, or if you are post-menopausal and notice a lump. Not all lumps are cancerous. Your physician, after feeling the lump, may order additional imaging studies or a biopsy to determine if the lump is cancerous.
There are two types of calcium deposits in the breast, which can be detected through a mammogram. Macrocalcifications or coarse deposits, are most commonly found in women over 50 and are almost always associated with non-cancerous conditions and do not require a biopsy. Microcalcifications are tiny calcium specks in the breast that many times are seen in one area, commonly referred to as a cluster. When these appear in your mammogram, your physician may schedule a follow up mammogram in six months to see if there has been any change or possibly a biopsy. Eighty percent of the time these biopsies are benign. By taking these diagnostic steps we increase the chance of early detection.
It is not uncommon for a woman to experience a small amount of discharge from their nipples when squeezing the breast. The discharge may be white, yellow, green to brown. If you notice the discharge is a large amount, spontaneous, clear or bloody, you should contact a health care provider experienced in breast health or the Breast Center who will likely order a mammogram or sonogram to help with diagnosis.
Cysts are fluid-filled sacks in the breast that can show as a lump which can be seen through imaging studies. An ultrasound is commonly used to distinguish a solid lump from a cyst. Most cysts are benign and can be drained (aspirated) to eliminate pain or discomfort. A cyst that has debris in the fluid is considered complex and your physician will aspirate the cyst in order to determine if it is malignant.
Need help answering any of these questions? Our specialists are here for you:
Sue McCLure was siagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 47. Today she is a survivor. Watch her story.
Dr. Diana Griffiths, Medical Director of the Breast Center at Saint Agnes Hospital, discusses the unique care and compassion that is shown to Breast Cancer patients at Saint Agnes Hospital.
Dr. Maryam Jaberi discusses The Comprehensive Breast Center at Saint Agnes Hospital.